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What is Citrix XenApp (and what is Microsoft RDS)?

XenApp is a product that allows users to securely access data, applications and desktops remotely. For example, from an iPad a user can access a full Windows desktop or a Windows application (Internet Explorer, Outlook etc.) while working from anywhere that has internet connectivity.

Microsoft RDS (Remote Desktop Services) is a basic remote application and desktop product that requires an RDS SAL (Service Access License) via the Microsoft SPLA licensing program. Access to RDS apps and desktops is limited to the number of devices that support the RDS client and is sensitive to bandwidth constraints and network latency.

XenApp is installed on to Microsoft Windows servers that already run Microsoft RDS. XenApp provides market leading capability that extends the existing ability of RDS to deploy applications and hosted shared desktops to users on a more diverse set of devices on any network. XenApp uses a network protocol that provides the industry’s best performance for remote access to data, apps and desktops.

Additional capability that XenApp provides includes the ability to optimize the use of video, voice and other traffic including printing, that can otherwise be problematic to manage and have negative impact on user experience. Skype of Business can be optimised using XenApp, for example (see the Skype for Business Optimized! FAQ).

A common use case for XenApp is to optimise the Microsoft Skype of Business experience in a remote desktop service. Check out this blog to see how Optimized Skype for Business will help you win deals!

XenApp also includes numerous features that provide the partners and customers with the ability to optimise management and scale of their solutions, including multi-tenancy. XenApp Premium includes a very comprehensive set of monitoring and provisioning features, along with the ability for users to access features including Self Service Password Reset and SmartAccess (see the NetScaler SmartAccess Blog).